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“A.R. Rahman has approved The Humma Song” – Jubin Nautiyal

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With “Kaabil Hoon” (‘Kaabil’) becoming a chartbuster and “The Humma Song” (‘OK Jaanu’) steadily climbing up the popularity charts, Jubin Nautiyal is clearly the man of the moment. The singer, who broke into the Bollywood music scene with the hit song “Ek Mulaqat” (‘Sonali Cable’) in 2014, has already lent his voice to Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Hrithik Roshan, among others. In this interview, he talks about his latest hits, journey as a singer and forthcoming projects.

How was the experience of working with a veteran like Rajesh Roshan?
The experience was very different from the kind I had with other composers. I got to experience the entire old school way of dubbing and recording a song. Rajesh ji is someone who is very sure of what he wants and he sticks to his conviction. He will listen to your feedback and suggestion but he is very sure about the decisions he makes with regards to the song. I totally respect him for that. “Kaabil Hoon” is a very good marriage of young voices and new age programming with old school melody.

Have you sung a recreated version of “Dil Kya Kare” (‘Julie’ (1975)) for ‘Kaabil’?
I have sung a recreated version of “Dil Kya Kare” but I am not sure whether it will be used in ‘Kaabil’ or some other project. I will be very happy whenever it comes out as the original song is very beautiful and the recreated version has shaped up pretty well too.

You have sung “The Humma Song” (‘OK Jaanu’), which is a recreated version of A.R. Rahman’s “Humma Humma” (‘Bombay’). What came as a surprise is that the song has been recreated by Tanishk Bagchi and Badshah. Rahman has composed the soundtrack for the entire film. Couldn’t he have stepped in to recreate his own composition as well?
Rahman Sir has created the original song. He did not need to recreate it. He let us youngsters do our own interpretation of the song (Laughs). “Humma Humma” is a cult song. Tanishk Bagchi and Badshah have recreated the song and put it out as a tribute to him. Recreating or redoing a song originally composed by A.R. Rahman is a huge responsibility. We had a fair idea of what we were getting into and worked very hard on the track. Some people might have thought that we did this without Rahman Sir’s knowledge but the fact is that he heard the song after it was recorded and he approved it. The basic composition is still the same. Shasha Tirupathi and I have just stylised the vocals, Tanishk has done some amazing new age programming and there is a cool rap portion by Badshah.

Years back, you participated in ‘X Factor India’, a music reality show. Did the show help you better yourself as a singer or making inroads into the industry?
I do not think reality shows can make you a singer. They can help you gain some sort of recognition by giving you a platform to showcase your talent. I participated in ‘X Factor India’ and it was a very good experience. I come from a small town where I was very popular as a singer and a musician. The attention that I had been getting since childhood was getting on to my head. I was 17 when I auditioned for the reality show. I had to stand in long queues waiting for my turn. I got to meet several singers who, I thought, were better than me. I got through a couple of rounds before getting eliminated at a later stage. The whole experience made me realize that I need to work harder and get more serious about music. ‘X Factor India’ was a turning point in my life as it gave me the requisite exposure and made me realize that I need to put more effort to leave a mark as there as there is a talented singer in every nook and corner of our country.

You have mostly sung soft and mellow numbers. Is that your forte or would you like to try out different genres?
When I started my career, I used to sing romantic numbers and sad songs. Now, I want to step out of my comfort zone and sing different kind of songs. I want to experiment with different genres and try out my voice on a variety of songs. “Kaabil Hoon” is very different from the kind of songs I have sung in the past. It is not the kind of song people expect to hear in my voice but I gave it a try and it worked wonders for me. The song has turned out to be very popular and I am getting love from all over the world. The other day I wrote to Hrithik saying that his stardom is unreal and that has helped the song get so much attention. He replied back saying that my voice is unreal and that has what worked for the song. I was touched by his gesture.

You play the guitar extensively. Do you have any plans of turning into a composer?
Since my childhood, I have been a singer and a songwriter. I started composing music because I did not want to sing anybody else’s song. I wanted to find my own style of singing. When I started singing, I realized that if I sing a song sung by another singer, I would end up aping him. When I came to Mumbai, I used to make music directors listen to my compositions and then, they started calling me to sing for them. Now, I am planning to release my own music in a big way. We have shot a couple of music videos and I am trying to work out a release deal with a record label.

These days, almost every film introduces a new singer. With so much competition around, do you feel insecure?
No, I do not think like that. I feel that the market is getting bigger and there is space for everyone. Earlier, a singer would record a song for a film and then, he has to wait until the film releases after a year or so. Some films would run in theatres for months at a stretch. Today, a big film releases and it does all its business in ten days making way for another film to release. Bollywood is a big family and it welcomes everybody with open arms. People like me who come from small towns get to make a name for themselves in this industry. A couple of years back, I would have never imagined these wonderful things to happen to me. Instead of getting into a rat race, people should compete with their own selves and try to sharpen their skills. I just believe in doing my job well. When I am singing a song, my focus is only on that song. I should sing it better than my last song.

Can you share something about your forthcoming projects?
I have been told that Mohit Suri has loved my voice in the track that I have recorded for his film ‘Half Girlfriend’. It is the main romantic number in the film. Tanishk Bagchi, whom I share a long working relationship with, has composed the song. The single, which I will be releasing soon, is called “Haye Dil”. It is a song that I composed with my friend Rocky Khanna. Sayeed Quadri has written the lyrics for the song. We have shot the video near India Gate, in front of a crowd of 60,000 people. In the video, I am playing in a rock concert. It is my first big single and I am very excited about it.

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